14-Days: A Pilgrimage to Ireland and Northern Ireland

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

We depart USA en route to Dublin, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE DUBLIN

We arrive in Dublin and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre driver/guide, who will accompany us throughout our journey. Dublin’s name derives from “Dubh linn”, the Black Pool which was in the heart of historic Dublin. This ancient city was known to Ptolemy the Great. It saw the High King Brian Boru killed nearby fighting the Vikings. Both the Normans and the English invaded it. Henry VIII established Trinity College here to nurture the New Faith (Protestantism), while Catholicism was outlawed for over three hundred years. The famous Book of Kells is kept at the College. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Molly Malone are among the city’s notables. We board our luxury motor coach for transfer to our hotel for some time to rest and relax, and then we will celebrate a welcome Mass together. Dinner and the evening are at our hotel. (D)

DAY 3: DUBLIN: VISIT OF THE CITY AND LEISURE

This morning we will celebrate mass in a local church. We will then enjoy a half-day sightseeing tour including: viewing Georgian Dublin, Leinster House (Parliament), St. Patrick Cathedral (Church of Ireland) dating from 450A.D., and visiting Christ Church (founded by King Sitric of the Dublin Norsemen in 1038 and rebuilt in 1169 by the Normans). Our last stop of the day is the Shrine of St. Valentine, after whom the February 14 holiday is named. This afternoon is at leisure for shopping and browsing. Tonight we have dinner at the hotel. (B, D)

DAY 4: DUBLIN / ULSTER: BELFAST

Today, we travel north to Ulster to bask in the scenic beauty and the variety of the landscape that makes Northern Ireland especially striking. Here we visit the Victorian city of Belfast and celebrate mass in a local church. This afternoon we enjoy a panoramic tour of this industrial city, famed for its ship building and linen production. We will have some time at leisure before returning to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 5: BELFAST / GIANTS CAUSEWAY / LONDONDERRY

This morning we depart Belfast, stopping at a local church to celebrate mass. After Mass we will pass through the Glens of Antrim for our visit of the Giant’s Causeway, containing 40,000 columns of basalt. The ancients believed that this spectacular rock formation was the work of the giant Finn McCool, the Ulster warrior and commander of the King of Ireland’s armies. Our final stop of the day is Derry (Londonderry). Derry owes its origins to a monastery founded by St. Columba in 546 AD. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 6: LONDONDERRY: EXCURSION TO OMAGH

This morning we celebrate Mass at a local church followed by a walking tour of the historic city walls. Later we travel to Omagh for a visit of the Ulster American Folk Park, an open-air museum. The museum, using “living history” demonstrations, tells the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th & 19th centuries. We return to Londonderry for dinner at a local restaurant and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 7: LONDONDERRY / SLIGO / KNOCK / GALWAY

This morning we depart Londonderry for Sligo, immortalized by W.B. Yeats, Ireland’s greatest poet. We travel to Drumcliffe where, in a little churchyard, we visit his grave. We continue on to Knock, Ireland’s most beloved and popular religious shrine, dedicated to Our Lady of Knock. The shrine is visited each year by more than 1.5 million pilgrims. Upon arriving here as a pilgrim in the autumn of 1979, Pope John Paul II declared: ‘Now I am at the goal of my pilgrimage to Ireland!” We begin with Mass, followed by a tour of the grounds to learn the story of the apparitions here. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available in a special chapel. We continue on to Galway for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 8: GALWAY: EXCURSION TO BALLINTUBBER & WESTPORT

Today we visit Ballintubber Abbey where we celebrate Mass, which has been celebrated here daily for over 800 years. This is also the location where St. Patrick baptized at a well! This was the traditional starting point for the annual pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Croagh Patrick. In the cemetery stands the tree that marks the grave of Sean the Priest -Killer. We continue on to Westport, one of Ireland’s most charming towns in the western region. We return to Galway for dinner at a local restaurant and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 9: GALWAY / ENNIS / ADARE / KILLARNEY

Today we leave Galway and head south for Killarney, stopping first at the Friary at Ennis, a charming town of narrow streets. We celebrate our Mass here at the Church of Sts. Peter & Paul. Then we are on to the thatched-roof village of Adare, where we stop for lunch on our own. We arrive in Killarney for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 10: KILLARNEY: RING OF KERRY EXCURSION

We begin with Mass at St. Mary’s Church. Then we are off for a thrilling scenic ride (112 miles) around the famed Ring of Kerry, a continuously changing landscape of dramatic cliffside views and breathtaking seascapes. The balance of our day is at leisure in Killarney. Dinner is served at a local pub. (B, D)

DAY 11: KILLARNEY / BLARNEY / WATERFORD

Today we are off to Blarney Castle, where you acquire the ‘gift of gab’ by kissing the Blarney Stone. Woollen Mills offers some great shopping. Along the way we will stop for Mass at a local church. Our final stop of the day is Waterford, lying on the banks of the River Suir, where we visit the factory which is world renowned for its crystal. Dinner is at our hotel in Waterford. (B, D)

DAY 12: WATERFORD / DUBLIN: LEISURE, OPTIONAL GUINNESS VISIT

This morning we celebrate mass at a local church and then depart Waterford for Dublin. We will make a visit to the famous Guinness Storehouse, a spectacular attraction, designed to woo you with the wonders of the “dark stuff”. The star attraction is undoubtedly the top-floor Gravity Bar, with 360-degree floor-to-ceiling glass walls that offer a nonpareil view out over the city while you sip your free pint. Those not wishing to make the Guinness tour are free to do some shopping in Dublin today. Dinner tonight is on our own to explore Dublin’s many restaurants and pubs. (B)

DAY 13: DUBLIN: EXCURSION TO GLENDALOUGH / AVOCA

Today we depart for Glendalough– the Glen Between the Two Lakes. According to legend, St. Kevin retired to this spot to be alone because his good looks made him a source of temptation. He had to drown one persistent lady who followed him; another became a nun. These Sixth Century ruins are from the monastic community he founded. In time, this community became a great center of learning known as “Rome of the West”. We will visit the Interpretative Center for Celtic Spirituality and celebrate Mass at a church en route.

Next we visit the Vale of Avoca, immortalized in the poetry of Thomas More’s “The Meeting of the Waters”, where the Avonmore and Avonbeg Rivers meet. Along the valley road are shops selling the well-known Avoca-weave rugs. We gather tonight for a festive Farewell dinner. (B, D)

DAY 14: RETURN USA

We transfer to the Dublin airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)

NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.